Slow Cooker Chicken Stock


Homemade chicken stock is kitchen alchemy, turning trash into gold. Take the leftover bones from a roast chicken dinner, add water, and the result is my secret weapon in the kitchen. Stock is the backbone of my soups and pan sauces.

I've been pressure cooking chicken stock for years; I throw roast chicken carcasses in the pressure cooker pot while cleaning up after dinner. An hour later I'm straining the stock. Quick and easy.

My slow cooker is the other way I bend time in the kitchen. Instead of quick and under pressure, there's long, low and slow. I finally tried slow cooker chicken stock the other day, after reading (yet another) recipe for it in Deborah Schneider's The Mexican Slow Cooker. After a Sunday roast chicken dinner, I put the chicken bones in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, everything went in the pot before I left for work. When I came home, the smell of chicken filled the house. I tossed the bones, strained the stock, and threw together a pot of chicken noodle soup for everyone.

The full version of this recipe has a mix of aromatics and spices, to add depth to the stock. If you're really in a hurry, the only essential ingredients are the chicken bones, onion, bay leaf, and water. Frankly, I make this bare bones version of stock more often than not.
*Get it? Bare bones? I kill myself.

The other thing to keep in mind is there isn't any salt in this stock. Pan sauces made by reducing pre-salted stock get too salty, so I leave it out until I need it. That said, stock absolutely needs salt to taste right. When you're using the stock, add salt, let it dissolve, taste the stock...then repeat. You'll taste when the stock is salted enough - the flavor will suddenly go from bland to "full of chicken flavor."
*What should you do with chicken stock? See my "Related Posts", below.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Stock


Inspired By: Deborah Schneider The Mexican Slow Cooker

Cooking time: 8 hours

Equipment:

  • Slow Cooker (Preferably 6 quarts or larger, with a removable insert, and a timer mode to switch to "warm" after the 8 hour cooking time. I love my All-Clad, but I hear good things about this Crock Pot model)

Ingredients:

  • Bones of 2 roasted chickens w/ meat on, (roughly 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 celery rib, cut in half (optional)
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed and cut in half (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed, with peels (optional)
  • water to cover (about 2 quarts)

Directions:

1. Slow cook the stock
Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker, and add enough water to just cover the chicken. Slow cook on low heat for 8 hours.

Ready to cover with water
8 hours on low

2. Strain the stock
Remove the solids from the cooker using a slotted spoon and discard. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer, then use or freeze.

Fishing out the spent ingredients
Pouring through a fine mesh strainer

Notes:

  • This recipe can be doubled in a large (6 quart or larger) slow cooker, but you may have to break up the chicken carcasses to make them fit.
  • It helps to have a slow cooker with a removable insert - it is easier to lift out and pour the stock through a fine mesh strainer. If you don't have a removable insert, you can use a ladle to remove the stock.
  • I freeze chicken carcasses and trimmings until I have enough bones to make stock. If you start with frozen bones, cook on low for ten hours.

What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts (AKA: What should I use this chicken stock for?):

Soup recipes:
(Most call for turkey and turkey stock, but that's OK; chicken and turkey are easy substitutions)
Turkey Noodle Soup
Tortilla Soup
Thai Coconut Soup
Turkey Ramen Soup

Pan sauce recipes:
Sear Roasted Chicken Breasts with Shallot Herb Pan Sauce
Ribeye Steak with Red Wine Pan Sauce
Sear Roasted Turkey Thighs with Tomato and Sage Pan Sauce
Pork Chop Saute with Orange Mustard Pan Sauce

Adapted from:

Deborah Schneider The Mexican Slow Cooker


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8 comments:

Chris Lukowski said...

So here's the big question: How does slow cooker stock compare to pressure cooker stock? Does it still pull out a comparable level of collagen? Is PC stock still your go-to method?

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

I still prefer pressure cooker stock. It does extract more gelatin, and has a slightly deeper flavor.

But...having stock is better than no stock, and the slow cooker stock is quite good. Make whichever one fits your schedule.

My stock making technique is based on how much time I have.

PC stock: when I have time after dinner. I toss everything in the PC, come back an hour later, and strain it.

Slow Cooker: when I have time in the morning. I toss everything in the slow cooker before I leave for work, and strain it when I get home.

Chris Lukowski said...

Thanks! BTW, I just noticed your cutting board is haunted. Look under the stock container to the left in this post. Better kill that thing with fire!

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

I didn't notice that! It does look rather sad, doesn't it?

Charlie said...

I am trying this today. Can beef stock be done the same way?

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Yes, but it will take longer. I'd go 10 to 12 hours on high, or 5 to 6 on low.

Charlie said...

Thanks Mike. I'm assuming you meant 10-12 on low and 5-6 on high? Would you change anything in the beef stock recipe?

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

You're right - I got those reversed. 10-12 on low, 5-6 on high. When I want to get fancy, I add some browned tomato paste and a little red wine to my beef stock - see my recipe here. Usually
I don't worry about it much, and just toss the same "onion, carrot, bay leaf" aromatics in the pot with the bones, wether they are beef, chicken, turkey, or pork. The only thing I insist on is the onion - it adds a nice sweetness to the stock.

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